CHARLESTON – A Berkeley County judge correctly ordered the former owner of a 54-acre subdivision to pay Centra Bank more than $1 million, the Supreme Court of Appeals has decided.
On Jan. 13, the Justices ruled that Berkeley Circuit Judge Gina Groh entered judgment against Jennifer Grafton-Gore in 2010, finding she owed more than $900,000 on a promissory note.
Groh awarded interest on the deficiency, before and after judgment. She awarded about $12,000 in attorney fees and costs, plus interest after judgment.
In 2006, Grafton-Gore arranged to buy Hickory Ridge subdivision for $5,143,000. Centra loaned her $2,300,000, and the seller provided secondary financing.
In 2007, the promissory note came due and Grafton-Gore didn't pay. In 2008, Centra Bank obtained bankruptcy court approval to transfer the lot. In 2009, the bank started foreclosure proceedings against Grafton-Gore.
The bank bought four of five lots at auction for $1,760,000 and sued Grafton-Gore for the deficiency on the note.
She filed a counterclaim alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and conspiracy to defraud.
Groh entered summary judgment for the bank on the deficiency and the counterclaim. She found no special relationship between Centra and Grafton-Gore in an arrangement that normally doesn't give rise to a duty of care.
She wrote that Grafton-Gore failed to present enough evidence to substantiate a breach of contract claim. On the conspiracy claim, she wrote that Grafton-Gore introduced no false statements or evidence that Centra acted in concert with anyone to commit an unlawful act.
The Justices agreed on all points. They reviewed a stack of correspondence Grafton-Gore attached to her appeal, and found nothing to indicate Centra conspired with anyone to defraud her.
Susan Snowden of Martinsburg represented Centra. Grafton-Gore represented herself.